3rd place: College essay contest — Marquez Collins

I’m a minority within a minority

FFRF awarded Marquez $2,500.

Marquez Collins

By Marquez Collins

I was 13 years old when I first rejected religion. I stopped attending church, stopped praying, and started thinking for myself. As a young Black teenager in America, I had automatically put a target on my back. I was a Black boy who did not believe in God — a minority within a minority. But what pushed me to alienate myself at such a young age? The simple answer is curiosity. However, the real reason is much more difficult to grasp.

Ever since I was old enough to understand the bible, I disagreed with it. I sat in church on Sundays and listened as the pastor would read scriptures that almost seemed to completely contradict his lifestyle and that of his followers.

One particular story that stuck with me was The Book of Exodus. In it, God told each Israelite household to find a lamb, kill it, then rub its blood on the top of the door. If the Israelites did not follow his instructions, all first-borns would be killed by the next morning. This was nothing short of mass murder done to prove a point. As a young boy, I questioned how so many people could believe this story was even possible, let alone agree that it was morally correct.

However, there were many more stories just like that one. Some were even more gruesome. So, one day when I had finally had enough, I asked my grandmother about it, believing she would be the most understanding toward my curiosity. I could not have been more wrong. My grandmother began to treat me as if I had a sickness. She would call priests to visit me, repeatedly remind me I would go to hell, and even take me to doctors to diagnose me with depression. However, I never lost sight of my original goal. I was determined to uncover more information on the widely accepted absurd and egregious acts described in the bible.

At that point in my life, I became almost obsessed with learning about the origin of the bible. I wanted to know why a “loving and forgiving” god would murder his own people. What I uncovered left me even more conflicted. According to the bible, the Christian God created “angels” to carry out his will as messengers. One of his angels, Lucifer, disobeyed God and was cast out of heaven into a fiery world called hell. So, from then on, he is mentioned as the cause of all things evil. My problem was not with the extremity of the story. The entire bible was filled with unbelievable stories. My problem was with the obvious incongruity of this story. In the bible, it describes how everything God creates must be good. However, in this case, something God created became evil and powerful enough to affect everyday life. There were too many things wrong with this story for me. Why did “God’s creation” turn evil? Also, if God is all powerful, why did he not simply kill Lucifer in the same way he killed innocent people? I was only 13, but, from that point on, I knew I could never believe in Christianity.

Christianity was not the fit for me, but I knew there were many more religions to explore. And one by one, they all failed me just as much. Islam had clear misogynistic messages, and other religions seemed pointless to me. So, I decided that I would live by my own morals, thank myself for my accomplishments, and treat others with true love and fairness. Many people feel that religion acts as a guide for their success. Personally, I do not need an imaginary deity to determine how prosperous I would be. I am a proud minority within a minority, and I will succeed in life.

Marquez, 19, is from Stockbridge, Ga., and attends Savannah State University, majoring in biology. “My goal after college is to become a medical doctor or surgeon. I am also a self-taught barber and have been using that to help support myself through school.”